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  1. #1

    Default cooler size for alaska hunts

    I'm going on an alpine blacktail hunt this August and a black bear hunt next May. I'm looking at logistics for cooler size. I'd love to take pack a large cooler with my soft goods and either check it or ship ahead of time, but the big rotomolded coolers are so heavy they don't allow for much meat weight on the way back.

    The deer hunting trip will be primarily backpacking in for a few days at a time, then coming down to move spots if needed so I don't think a cooler is necessary. But the bear hunt will be at a forest service cabin cruising the beaches so we will need something to keep food cold, then hopefully meat and hides.

    What's the biggest cooler you guys take and don't worry about size problems in either a beaver or cessna, and also weight problems on commercial flights?

    Is it worth taking a Yeti or should I just bring a cheaper lightweight cooler?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Lubbock, Texas
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    I was listening to the meat eater podcast the other day and they mentioned using the Yeti soft sided coolers to check meat back to the states in.

    I was going to buy some of the RTIC ones when they were on sale a while back but didn't pull the trigger before the sale was off.

    To me those would be the way to go. The softsided coolers weigh in around 5 or 6 pounds, and if you have the right sized duffel bag you could probably put the soft sided cooler inside the duffel and check it. Combined empty weight on the cooler and duffel would be under 10 pounds.

  3. #3

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    I took 4 94-100 qt. coolers for my 2015 BC moose hunt. I came back with two full ice chests of processed meat. If your meat is frozen and you pace some dry ice inside you should be good for 3-5 days. It took me 3 full days of driving from northern BC to central California.

  4. #4

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    I hunt every year via airlines and I no longer take coolers with me. This is what I do. Take a large dry bag, empty it weighs hardly anything. Put your boned out meat and cape (preferably frozen solid) in game bags, then place in plastic garbage bags, then place that inside your sleeping bag, and finally that goes into the large dry bag. As checked baggage in the belly of a plane at 40, 000 ft it's ice cold. I've brought back game from as far away as New Zealand this way.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    South East Colorado
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    7,607

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    If you go the cooler route, walmart is now selling a Yeti knock off rotomolded super insulated cooler. I believe the 120 quart was about $175.
    I'm an addict...archery, rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, hunting, fishing, fly fishing..and I don't want rehab

    CWEH...Colorado's Worst Elk Hunter 2007-2017 (but I'm still damned sexy) 10 years of consistency!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    interior Alaska
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    158

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    Quote Originally Posted by glass eye View Post
    I hunt every year via airlines and I no longer take coolers with me. This is what I do. Take a large dry bag, empty it weighs hardly anything. Put your boned out meat and cape (preferably frozen solid) in game bags, then place in plastic garbage bags, then place that inside your sleeping bag, and finally that goes into the large dry bag. As checked baggage in the belly of a plane at 40, 000 ft it's ice cold. I've brought back game from as far away as New Zealand this way.
    When I fly down the lower-48, my labs are in the belly of the plane..I always assumed
    the checked baggage was pressurizes and fairly warm because that is where they put the dog kennels with live dogs?

    My guess is you sleeping bag is the key...insulating the frozen hide/meat from ambient temperatures?

    --Skeeter

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlaskaHunter View Post
    When I fly down the lower-48, my labs are in the belly of the plane..I always assumed
    the checked baggage was pressurizes and fairly warm because that is where they put the dog kennels with live dogs?

    My guess is you sleeping bag is the key...insulating the frozen hide/meat from ambient temperatures?

    --Skeeter
    Well then, my sleeping bag/dry bag works better than I imagined. Figured it was ice cold in the cargo but I did a search and found this info in the link below. I brought frozen venison home from Hawaii and was dead tired when I got home. After a long sleep I finally got around to dealing with my meat. It had been exactly 24 hours since I removed the meat from the freezer and placed it in my bag. When I opened it up after 24 hours the frost on the packages hadn't even melted.

    https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-temp...ers-cargo-hold

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    I've been told by airline personnel that the baggage area is the same temperature as the cabin - too many weight problems to insulate.
    I always fly meat in waxed meat boxes. The meat should be either frozen or well cooled, placed in plastic bags, inside the meat box. When the baggage weight limit was 70 lbs., that would just about fill a box. If you want to stay inside the 50 lb. weight limit, I'd pack about 40 lbs of meat and add the necessary clothing or other soft gear to fill the box, provide extra insulation and hit the 50 lb target. I wouldn't worry about a cooler for meat transport unless you were not going to do something with it for more than 2 days after putting it on a plane.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
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    Bozeman, MT
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    For a Beaver I take my 85 qt Orions. Usually 1-85 qt and 2-65 qt for me and the crew will suffice. I stuff them full of gear on the flight up and if I have meat and hides for the flight back home I make sure I have a big dry bag that can hold the stuff I put in cooler on the way up.

    If you are flying on a Cessna, odds are you will have problems with coolers. Pay for the Beaver, get it all in one flight, and don't look back.

    For a deer hunt you can drop one of the 65qt coolers and get by with the 85 and the 65. It will hold all the meat if trimmed up good and unless you shoot a world record blacktail, you can fit the rack in the 85 qt and pack meat around it.

    On bear hunts I fly out with one cooler that has the cold good and the block ice. The rest hold dry good and food that does not need to be on ice. If I was going with one additional person and not two additional people I could probably get by with only two coolers on that trip, also.

    With coolers, just plan on paying the overweight baggage fees. Put it in your budget. Check it as luggage and don't ship it in advance. Shipping in advance is a good way to not have the necessities when you arrive. Trust me on that one.
    My name is Randy Newberg and I approved this post. What is written is my opinion, and my opinion only.

    "Hunt when you can. You're gonna run outta health before you run outta money."

  10. #10

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    I haven't done it yet, but my plan for this summer in the NWT is to take 2 of the big Yeti Hoppers. Put them in my luggage on the way up, and hopefully bring a good bit of sheep and a bit of caribou back in it

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    interior Alaska
    Posts
    158

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary View Post
    I've been told by airline personnel that the baggage area is the same temperature as the cabin - too many weight problems to insulate.
    I always fly meat in waxed meat boxes. The meat should be either frozen or well cooled, placed in plastic bags, inside the meat box. When the baggage weight limit was 70 lbs., that would just about fill a box. If you want to stay inside the 50 lb. weight limit, I'd pack about 40 lbs of meat and add the necessary clothing or other soft gear to fill the box, provide extra insulation and hit the 50 lb target. I wouldn't worry about a cooler for meat transport unless you were not going to do something with it for more than 2 days after putting it on a plane.
    Frozen is key. If it is a long trip, it may be possible to get the meat flash-frozen
    from a fish processor that normally serves sport fishermen.

    Also if you have a layover, see if you can have you meat stored in a freezer at the airport.
    Thirty years ago I lived in New Hampshire and had a long layover at Seatac airport,
    the airline stored my halibut in a freezer for me at the airport. Don't know if Seatac is unusual to have freezer facilities at the airport, but it can't hurt to ask if you have a long layover.

  12. #12

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    My commercial flight time is 7 1/2 hours so thawing isn't a huge concern.

    I never really thought of the soft sided coolers, i like that idea but then you run into needing multiple soft sides where you could get away with one 85 qt. We will primarily be backpacking so I won't need to keep groceries cold during the week. Just need something in the truck with ice in it so we can keep a deer cool. The more I think about it the more I'm leaning towards one 85 qt and possibly an insulated fish box if that isn't large enough.

  13. #13

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    Couple of things. Most 85qt coolers will be over the size requirements for oversized luggage. If full, you will probably be paying oversize AND overweight fees on the same piece of luggage. IIRC, 70qts is about as big as possible and meet most commercial airlines luggage size limits. Similarly, I'm not sure the insulating/construction qualities of a super cooler like the Orion or Yeti are needed for the air travel. An equal size, cheaper cooler will be much lighter and therefore leave a more free board before you hit overweight limits.

  14. #14

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    I travel often with an oversized AND overweight bag and have never been double charged. If your bag is oversize you might as well max it out on the weight because it's the same fee. Check your airline's rules.

  15. #15

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    Glass eye, my thoughts exactly

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    Look into AO Coolers. The quality is good and cheap enough for what they are. For a cooler to fly with, I think they would be hard to beat.

  17. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glass eye View Post
    I travel often with an oversized AND overweight bag and have never been double charged. If your bag is oversize you might as well max it out on the weight because it's the same fee. Check your airline's rules.
    A lot of that depends on how you check in for your flight. If its curbside, a $20 tip covers a lot of oversize and overweight luggage. Don't expect all clerks at the check in counter to waive extra charges (depending on: how their day has gone, so far). IF you can schlep your bag to the boarding area (as a carry-on), an attendant will probably take it from you to go into baggage.
    In the "good old days", I was able to avoid a lot of overweight, oversize and extra baggage fees by offering to step behind the counter and put my bags on the conveyer belt myself. I don't think that would be an option today.

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